Stratus’ fiscal year begins in March. In other words, it starts one month earlier than the average Japanese company. The new fiscal year from March of this year will end in February of 2020, so it will be FY20 (Fiscal Year 20). Right now, from December last year to this month, we are in the process of making final adjustments to our FY20 business plan, that is, our sales targets and budgets.
This is my third experience in leading the entire Japanese subsidiary of a foreign-affiliated company or leading a business division at Stratus Technology Japan. Although the planning process differs depending on the history of each company and the position of the Japanese corporation in the world, I feel that there are many common parts in general.
The common denominator means that we formulate a plan aimed at increasing sales and improving profit margins over time. First, let’s look at whether the market in which the business is based is growing, and what is the growth rate. In addition, we usually plan in the direction of gaining market share. In detail, sales budgets are made for each product line and service category, and the sales are aggregated. When new products or services are planned, this contributes to uncertainty, but often results in a slightly more positive outlook. The company-wide plan for the next fiscal year (top-down) and the sum of the plans for each region (bottom-up) always do not coincide. In the course of discussions and negotiations to fill in the gaps, the increase or decrease in investment and costs is also discussed.
When setting sales targets, the first thing I keep in mind is whether the workplace is thinking positively about what it will achieve. In other words, it may not be easy to achieve, but is it within the range that you think is possible through the positive activities of your employees? The second is whether the resources to achieve it (sales and other personnel, marketing budget, product development plan, etc.) are reasonable. Efficiency is assumed to some extent, but without securing the necessary resources to achieve the sales plan, the plan itself will become a cake in the sky.
In addition, when formulating a bottom-up plan for a Japanese subsidiary, we will make efforts to be as specific as possible. For example, consider increasing or decreasing sales by sales partner, Some partners anticipate a growth trajectory in anticipation of the results of their past investments. For partners who generated a large number of sales in a special project in the previous year, we assume sales for the following year taking into account the amount of the opportunity.
In addition, we assume the number of units sold and the number of licenses for each product. It is not easy to assume sales of new products, but we do so while referring to the market size and sales trends of past products. When it comes to hardware, the capacity of the manufacturing department also needs to be considered, so the plan is shared in advance with the manufacturing and logistics departments.
At the moment, we are in the final adjustment stage, but in terms of products, we expect significant sales growth in the field of industrial automation (a field centered on manufacturing and social infrastructure) by industry. In the third quarter of this year, we saw many cases in which our non-stop servers and software were evaluated and adopted for production and process control applications in the manufacturing industry. We are also accumulating achievements in the railways-related and electric power-related fields. As for the ztC Edge of edge computers, which we announced last year, we plan to strengthen the product and expect strong growth towards the second half. In the area of services, we expect to develop businesses in new fields while maintaining and strengthening our business centered on existing payment and settlement solutions.
We have no choice but to carry out our plans to the extent that we can influence them, but in reality, outside of that, the market environment can change drastically. Recently, the Lehman shock in 2008 is a concrete example. At the end of last year, stock prices fluctuated, the trade friction between the United States and China was difficult to come by, and the impact on Japan’s economy is highly considerable. As Japan’s trading partners, the United States and China are the first and second-largest export and import partners. Changes in demand in this powerful economic zone affect the performance of many Japanese companies, and it can be said that the impact on companies like ours, whose business performance is influenced by trends in capital investment, is significant.
“Stop worrying about things you can’t control! “The macro market environment can change, but there’s no point in worrying about things you can’t control. We have no choice but to be prepared to watch and respond to these changes, and to make up our minds to calmly carry out our plans with the market environment as a given.